Joy, a long term investment
When I was little, being joyful was displayed by an exuberant dance or belly laugh. Today, being joyful is a quiet happiness, that is usually a long time coming. When I sit down to a lunch that came directly from my backyard, I'm joyful, giddy almost.
When my seven-year-old is genuinely disappointed that the chickens won't be laying as many eggs during the winter and we serve store-bought eggs, I'm quietly joyful. She has learned something! She is developing her own set of values!
When a visiting friend of my daughter's asks about why the corn in her Peapatch didn't grow, I'm joyful and excited to see genuine interest in knowing where our food comes from and how to make it grow.
Many of my friends have watched me on this journey of gardening and owning chickens and ducks. It's a full operation in my backyard and it's something I'm excited to share with people who, like me had a black thumb at one point or another. (I still can't be trusted with indoor plants.)
Gardening has allowed me to expand my experience growing things, learn patience and planning. I never wanted to have to learn patience, but now that I have, I'm less anxious and I'm a better parent to my kids.
Overall, gardening and sharing my hobbies with my kids teaches me to be grateful every day. On most days, I can go outside, kick up some dirt, build a fence, grab warm chicken eggs from the coop, dig a pond, build a bridge and be creative in the yard.
And it feels great to stop by friends' homes and see a little pot of half dead (half alive!) herbs that I gave them last year.
Life with Ducklings
Have you planted your starts yet?
In the Seattle area, the last frost date has well passed and the plant sales are in full swing. Around here, Mother's Day weekend marks the official start of the direct-sow growing season.
I consider my potage (kitchen/ edible) garden to be in it's third year.
The first year, I exclusively grew pumpkins.
Last year, I experimented with tomatoes, potatoes, snap peas, squash, garlic, onions and broccoli. Separately, I have a mature herb garden that never ceases to amaze me with its hardiness.
This year, I'm trying even more veggies; ones that are new to my dirt.
Peppers, which I bought from PCC are sourced from "Rent's Due" Farm, located in Stanwood, Washington.
I may have bit off more corn than I can chew, at the Root Connection in Woodinville but I imagine pulling the corn from the stalk and chucking it directly onto the BBQ.
Among other edibles, I also have peas, pumpkins, kale, potatoes and tomatoes, which I grew from seed, strawberries, garlic, artichokes and I have basil in the kitchen window.
I put in some broccoli and cauliflower, which the wild bunnies wasted no time savoring.
If you haven't put anything in the ground, it's not too late! Grab a bag of compost, poke some holes in it and stick something in. Even better, have a kid help you out. They might learn something.
Nerd alert! Sometimes I garden in my pajamas.
Other times, I embarrass my family by rocking Carhartt overalls. Then there are those late summer days when I'm outside in my swimming suit, garden gloves and rubber boots, subdividing day lilies. Fortunately, I have a very private backyard. To cool off, I hop into the pool with the kids and act surprised when I'm the main target of the almighty garden hose.
Of course, I picture myself in a dainty, Anthropologie flower dress amidst the draping wisteria and lazy clematis. Usually, I pin these fantasies to my "Hort Fangirl" Pinterest page. In reality, I'm in a mishmash of attire that's 0% fashion and 100% function.
Seed Starting, March 2014
Maybe next year, I'll remember to WAIT (for crying out loud) until at least March to fire up the grow lights and bury seeds. And even then, only start pumpkins and tomatoes.
Please pardon my enthusiasm. I love dirt.
So, there I was with your grandmother, ogling the latest garden statuaries at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.
The show was fabulous this year, with lots of greenhouses, garden art, unique garden designs and of course Seahawks-related anything. And those grannies have sharp elbows, let me tell you!
I wont lie, I loved everything at the show. I even bought an aqua, glass, garden ball for my future water garden.
I couldn't find a sign that said "Trespassers will be Composted" but I'm happy to make one myself.
There were a lot of great greenhouse, fountain and flower garden ideas.
The "Oya" is a natural way to grow produce and save up to 70% water. It's a terra cotta vessel that's placed in the ground and perfectly waters your plants."
155 (now 156 people) "Like!" this on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Growoya
Snow is equally expected and a surprise. I love the way it changes the focal points in my landscape.
Of course, if you have kids in bright, puffy snowsuits, your focal point becomes a moving object.
The Christmas clutter is stowed and I'm ringing in 2014 with visions of building a greenhouse.
I came across a simple diy greenhouse, using old windows and spare lumber. It was built for under $100. Their framing is exactly what I need to recreate!
Their final product lacks the cottage charm I'm going for. I don't mind spending a few extra dollars on siding and extra time painting. The greenhouse will match my other outbuildings (playhouse & chicken coop) which are blue with white trim.
After taking inventory of my supplies on hand, it turns out I have all the windows I need and two fabulous 4x4 foot plexiglass panels (thanks dad!). I will need to buy a roof panel, siding, a door and some lumber. This means I get to go shopping at my favorite place ever, Earthwise Salvage!!
With a total re-do of my Not So Secret Garden, in addition to the greenhouse, I'll also be adding a water garden made from a galvanized tub. Come on Spring!
Spiced Apple Cider
In mid October, we took a long weekend to Lake Chelan, Washington.
It's a popular summer destination, so seeing Chelan in the fall at a relaxed pace, with lots of different harvest activities was a blast.
Along with the indoor pool for the kids, another highlight was making apple cider at Sunshine Farm Market. Going through the process of washing, chopping, grinding and squeezing the apples was eye-opening. It was especially gratifying when we sipped our handmade cider, realizing how naturally sweet it was.
The experience reaffirmed my desire to plant a fruit orchard, buy an apple press and make homemade cider every fall. I love the idea that I'd spend years and a thousand bucks to make something as "simple" as apple juice.
An abbreviated version of this DIY project involves buying the $500 cider press and a box of apples for $25, which would squeeze into about a gallon of cider... a $33 cup of cider.
Last one to the pickle party is a rotten... pickle.
That would be me. Pickling is not complicated which is probably why everyone has done it but me. There I was stressing over the details of pickling.
There are about five ingredients. You throw everything together and wait. The internet is loaded with recipes, so I wont bore you with mine. I didn't even follow it anyway.
I had fun. We'll see in a month or so if it actually worked.
Quick updates charting my novice and experimental, gardening adventures at home.
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